The Shadow of Boris Johnson

It’s not hard to discern the similarities between President Donald Trump, who is visiting the U.K. this week following the NATO summit, and Boris Johnson, who resigned as U.K. foreign secretary on Monday. The two share an affinity for offensive language, alienating their colleagues, and a casual disregard for the facts, among other traits. They also appear to share a mutual affection—Johnson, who quit in the apparent belief that Prime Minister Theresa May was not pursuing a hard enough version of Brexit, reportedly mused at a private dinner: “Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He’d go in bloody hard. … There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.” Trump, for his part, called Johnson a “friend” earlier this week, and said he might meet with him while he is in the U.K.

Which would be a little odd, since Johnson is no longer in charge of the U.K.’s foreign policy. Indeed, his short tenure as U.K. foreign secretary, characterized more by gaffes than by major accomplishments, is an apt reflection of the diminished state of the U.K. on the global stage. Trump’s visit, coming so soon after a contentious meeting of America’s traditional allies, serves to highlight the chaos that has characterized the politics of post-Brexit Britain and helped weaken its international standing. Johnson, as a champion of Brexit and an ineffectual foreign secretary, is emblematic of that process.

The tenor of his short term became apparent early on, when, for instance, Johnson hosted the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual open house. Welcoming the public into the building, the newly minted foreign secretary expressed his regrets that he could not show visitors his own favorite room, “the little antechamber which absolutely nobody sees, which I think is the foreign secretary’s dressing room, which contains all manner of delights which I unfortunately can’t, for security reasons, reveal to you,” he said. “But Palmerston the cat—a very famous cat—much prefers the stairs, where you’ll often see him licking his paws, and other things, in the sunshine.”

The “little antechamber” was just one of many secrets that Johnson kept during his two years as foreign secretary: the most important, of course, being what his foreign policy actually was. He seemed to have no plan for Brexit, which he had helped make …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Global

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